Welcome to GO ThreadsRich Stigall
Orphans aren’t burdens, they’re blessings. God presents big change opportunities through the kids at the end of the line. Beth and I have experienced this truth. And so have so many of you. I really believe our assignment within the GO Project leadership is to pay attention to when the Lord presents these specific opportunities; to provide a real outlet for such opportunities; and to let you all run with them.
Well, here we go again. I’m writing to present a unique outlet dear to my heart. One driving the sustainability piece of our orphan care model. It’s called GO Threads.
When I started traveling to meet with our local partners several years ago, one seemingly small thing became a thorn in my side. School uniforms. I’d see these places of abject poverty, with orphaned children, abandoned children, and just plain poor children in the community naked or in filthy rags, sitting in the dirt, and then another group of children decked out in brightly colored, sharp uniforms bounding off to school. Even in situations where schools were “free” (government or privately funded schools), I saw the dividing line.
That frustrated me. I saw what I thought was injustice. I wanted schools to do away with the school uniform requirement. Our local partners insisted that we stop demanding and start listening.
Schools – even overcrowded, underfunded government schools – and the bright outfits of its students bring lift. Dignity. Possibility. Amidst smothering hopelessness, slipping a sharp uniform on to a hurting child lifts that child’s countenance to want to learn. To those children, something as simple as a school uniform means, “I am somebody.”
We listened. We learned. And we started funding some school uniforms for our children in care. We quickly found this lift our partners spoke of proved to be very real. If you’ve traveled to visit our children around the world, you’ve seen it. We were particularly struck by one little girl in Kabale, Uganda. When she came into care, and felt secure enough to openly talk to her caregivers, one of our local leaders asked her to describe her feelings. She could have said anything. “I can’t believe I have a home.” “I can’t believe I have food to eat everyday.” “I can’t believe that I have a momma here who shows me love.” Anything. She said none of these. Here’s what she said: “I never thought I’d go to school looking so ‘smart’ like other children.”
God totally flipped my heart on this one. I want our children and more of the children locked out, in the dirt, to experience some small taste of dignity.
At the same time, our decision to start funding uniforms brought a new dilemma. When we looked around to see who made the uniforms, we often didn’t like what we saw. We saw large sewing mills. We saw business owners who made huge profits while paying workers barely enough to travel back and forth to work. None of the profits went to care for the most vulnerable children in the community. Though I didn’t like what I saw, I understood. The owners were just capitalizing on a business opportunity.
That’s when we saw something else: the obvious. We have that same opportunity. Why not work with locals to start unique businesses, sewing centers? That take workers out of aid lines and into jobs? That provide locally made clothing to the children in our care and their local peers who need them? That produce profit to pay for orphan care?
Well, by the grace of God, that’s what we’ve done. And it’s been the most exciting sustainability venture we’ve ever started. Over the last year, we launched and piloted our first four sewing centers: 3 in Uganda and 1 in Haiti. These pilot centers are on pace to produce nearly 8,000 garments, generating roughly $80,000 in profits to help pay for orphan care!
Now we’re ready to go to the next level. God’s in this, big time. What we really need now is a global sales force to help these centers thrive. That brings me to you.
Over the last two years, a new kind of giving force has taken this ministry by storm. So many of you bring a powerful dynamic to the GO Family: vast circles of influence, viral connections, and an appetite to drive change. You can inspire your circles to make big collective impacts. Some of you have asked… “What can I do? How can I get my friends involved?” You’ve asked for something specific, something collectively big, yet individually bite sized. We struggled to provide a clear outlet tailor made for viral, collective impact.
The orphan care linkage between the local workers in the sewing centers and all of you in this growing force brings us to today. To GO Threads. I hope you enjoy and share with others our launch video, above, and our dedicated web site – www.gothreads.org.
You’ve taken this ministry a long way since our first home in Thailand. We’re asking you all to run with GO Threads as deep and wide as you can take it. Here’s to our next chapter glorifying Christ together…